NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock markets rebounded Thursday after a five-day losing streak for the S&P 500, its longest losing streak since December, as the latest jobless claims numbers provided a constructive read on the labor market ahead of next week's widely watched monthly government jobs report. There was also hope that Washington's fiscal drama will come to a halt even if it means an eleventh hour budget deal.
"I think there's growing resonance that there's going to a budget resolution," said Tim Speiss, the New York-based partner-in-charge of the Personal Wealth Advisors Group of accounting firm EisnerAmper. "I believe what we're seeing here is that political leaders are going to reach at least an extension until Dec. 15 on the budget. So I think that's why we might be seeing some improvement in the stock market."
The S&P 500 rose 0.35% to 1,698.67. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher by 0.36% to 15,328.11. The Nasdaq added 0.7% to 3,787.43.
J.C. Penney (JCP) - Get J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Report shares rebounded by 3% to $10.42 following reports that the troubled retailer was looking for an equity infusion, possibly as high as $1 billion, with the company finally speaking out. J.C. Penney issued a statement shortly before the market opened, meant to assuage investors' fears, saying that it is "pleased with its progress thus far in the company's turnaround efforts and the traction its initiatives are starting to achieve," by seeing "greater predictability in its performance across many areas."
Air Products (APD) - Get Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. Report rose 2.3% to $109.78. The company will replace its CEO John E. McGlade in 2014 and elect three new independent directors to its Board of Directors, after Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management took a large stake in the chemicals manufacturer and pressed for change.
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) - Get Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Report was one of the top performers on the S&P, surging 4.5% to $77.52 after the housewares and home decor company reported better-than-expected second-quarter profit and revenue.
eBay (EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report added 4.5% to $56.64. Shares were higher after the company announced it was spending $800 million to acquire Braintree, a payments company, to further strengthen its PayPal business.
Jobless claims fell by 5,000 to a lower-than-expected 305,000 in the week ended Sept. 21, the Labor Department reported. That was better than the 325,000 figure Wall Street had expected. Furthermore, the four-week moving average on jobless claims decreased by 7,000 to 308,000, the lowest level since June 2007.
Meanwhile the third estimate on U.S. gross domestic product expansion in the second quarter came in unchanged from the previous estimate at 2.5%, the Commerce Department reported. An increase to 2.6% was expected.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was off 4/32, raising the yield to 2.648%.
-- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York
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